GY216 Continuous Assessment
The starting point of the pressure and release (PAR) model is that a disaster is the intersection of two
opposing forces: the process generating vulnerability on one side, and the physical exposure to hazard
on the other. Increasing pressure can come from either side but vulnerability has to be reduced to
relieve the pressure. In the PAR model Vulnerability is considered in three levels: root causes, dynamic
pressures and unsafe conditions. The strengths of the model are that it provides a broad view of
vulnerability, it gives weight to natural hazards, and it provides a framework for looking at livelihoods
The extent of human harm and losses during disasters are often linked with societal factors, including
weak governance and large social inequalities, which increase the vulnerability of the population or
groups within society. The vulnerability of individuals also plays a role, for example health, wealth,
education and age are some of the factors that can influence a person’s likelihood of being harmed
during a disaster.
Select ONE of the disasters listed below and apply the framework the pressure and release model
provides in a structured essay. Your answer should critically assess how the progression of
vulnerability intersects with the chosen environmental hazard in the evolution of a disaster.
The length guideline is 1800-2000 words and is worth 50% of your final grade.
Submission deadline: midnight 31st March 2021 (An upload link will be made available on Moodle)
Choose one of the following disasters:
1) The Haiti earthquake in 2010
2) The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the UK
3) Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar/Burma in 2008
You should aim to identify unsafe conditions, dynamic pressures and, if possible, root causes that
provide an explanation of why people or groups are vulnerable. You can focus on specific regions or
types of vulnerability within your chosen topic if you wish. A couple of papers are provided for each of
the disasters which can act as a starting point in your research, however you should include evidence
and findings from your own reading.
Referencing and Literature
You should aim to use reliable sources of information, including books, academic papers, official reports,
expert opinions and data from official sources, rather than less reliable sources such as newspaper and
website articles. You should provide short citations within the essay, for example (Jones et al., 2019), to
acknowledge where information originated, and a full citation in a bibliography at the end. Information
should be expressed in your own words or within direct quotation marks, with a page number given.
Cases of plagiarism will be taken seriously and reported to the head of department.